Updated: Apr 6
Branding is not about leaving a mark on yourself, it is about finding creative ways to leave your mark on the world.
As an African-centered designer, I have struggled with finding designers who celebrated their culture while still maintaining chic, clean looks, so hopefully, the following tips can help.
For so long I assumed a brand was something that had to reflect the individual, not realizing that only part of the branding process includes your own personal taste and style. Don't get me wrong, when creating a personal brand you should stick to elements that tell your story, but many budding entrepreneurs fail to realize that even though their product or service is their "baby", they need to create a look and feel that appeals to their target customer or niche.
There are 8 things that over the years I have learned about branding. Branding is not about leaving a mark on yourself, it is about finding creative ways to leave your mark on the world.
1. Market Research
Market research is how you determine how viable your brand is within your target market. It can include search engine results to surveys, interviews, focus groups, and customer observation. This data will assist you in determining your buyer persona.
2. Purpose & Positioning
You have to prove to your clients and customers that they should spend their money with you. This goes beyond look and feel and focuses more on how you intend on creating an experience in which your customer trusts you. Your purpose is your brand's reason for being beyond making money. Your brand's position is how the vision, product, and identity are strategically positioned in your respective market.
3. Logo & Wordmark
A logo is usually the first thing a potential customer sees when visiting your website, social media pages, or when looking at your product packaging. A logo should make a statement, but not be too complicated. A simple logo that represents your brand will command attention from the right patron.
4. Color Palette
The right color palette will allow you to create a cohesive brand identity. It is one of the most important parts of the design process. When a color palette is established for your brand, it allows for an easier design process and gives your website, social media pages, and products a cohesive look and feel.
Times New Roman and Arial are cool for term papers, but there are thousands of fonts that can help you to tell your brand's story. Coupled with a fresh color palette, having brand-specific fonts for headings, subheadings, paragraphs and even a logo sets a mood. Learn more about how I find great fonts in my blog 5 tools I use to stay inspired.
6. Graphics & Brand Elements
Many do-it-yourself entrepreneurs will use free online design resources for their printed products and marketing collateral. This is perfectly fine, especially if you have a collection of graphics and brand elements, such as icons, shapes, images, and other graphics that are cohesive with your brand. Deciding on whether to use a triangle or a rounded square as a signature element can make a world of difference!
7. Voice & Vocabulary
The beautiful thing about building your own brand is having a voice and vocabulary that matches your product. Think of your niche. Who is buying your product or service? What language(s) do they speak? Are they from the Bronx or Bangladesh? Are they vegan or meat-eaters? Just remember your voice is more-so about how your ideal customer wants to be spoken to.
8. Prints & Packaging
Packaging is usually the first interaction a customer has with your products. Well designed, branded, and sturdy packaging can leave a lasting mark. Customers learn to trust a company based on how put together their packaging is, and it is easy to find affordable printed products and packaging within your budget. There are many print-on-demand (or POD) companies available to print anything from the basic t-shirt and sublimated tote bag to brand home decor and stickers.
The beautiful thing about branding is that if you have the eye for it, much of it can be DIY. BUT if you struggle with creating looks that are suitable for your audience, there is nothing wrong with finding a professional to save you time and energy.